DETROIT — They’re not out of the woods yet, but the Red Wings seem to be getting a grip on their own destiny.
After a solid 4-2 victory Saturday night in Toronto to keep the Maple Leafs in a tailspin, the Wings returned home Sunday and beat a very good Tampa Bay Lightning team 3-2.
The Wings finished the week with 84 points, moving ahead of the idle Columbus Blue Jackets into the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference.
Jonas Gustavsson made 26 saves to improve to 16-4-3, playing in his first game since March 7.
"All the games are big right now," Gustavsson said. "If you look at the standings, it’s tight and will be tight all the way, so all the points that you can get, you’ve got to grab them and hold on to them."
Despite missing the last 11 games, Gustavsson looked sharp, especially when Mark Barberio had two excellent chances midway through the second period. Gustavsson had to make the save on the rebound from a sitting position.
"Great to see," Gustav Nyquist said. "It’s nice to see him back.
"Howie’s (Jimmy Howard) been unbelievable the last few games, and Monster stepped up big (Sunday night) — made some huge, huge saves. It’s great to see that we have two really, really good goalies."
Speaking of great, Nyquist scored a highlight-reel goal that’s sure to make top-10 lists as one of the best goals of the season.
At 15:24 of the first period with the score tied at 1, David Legwand saw Nyquist streaking up the middle of the ice.
Lightning defenseman Matt Carle was so determined to stop Nyquist that he did everything, including hooking and holding, but jump on Nyquist’s back. Perhaps a penalty shot could have been called.
But Nyquist somehow managed to make the puck go in the net from a bad angle for his 27th goal of the season.
"I just tried to spin and get it on net as fast as possible," Nyquist said. "Nice to see it go in."
Even Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop was impressed with Nyquist’s determination.
"It was a nice second effort by him," Bishop said. "Good player."
The goal extended Nyquist’s point streak to nine games. He has 11 goals and two assists in that span.
No player has more than Nyquist’s 22 goals since Jan. 20.
"It’s one of those years for him right now," said Justin Abdelkader, who played for the first time since suffering a leg laceration March 16. "He’s been on fire.
"It’s been great for us, with the guys we’ve had out, seeing him carry the load offensively. Hopefully, he keeps going here."
Although the Wings are close in points to the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers, who are just ahead of them, they’re also not far removed from the teams just below.
A good week by Columbus, Washington or Toronto and a bad week by Detroit could prove disastrous.
But with back-to-back victories, the Wings are feeling better about themselves as they head into a day off.
"We gotta find to find a way to win some games here to get in," Nyquist said. "We’ve got Washington breathing down our necks, and Columbus is right with us here. Toronto’s in the mix, too.
"We’ve got a lot of teams, and everyone’s going to be playing for their playoff lives here. It’s a good thing we have it in our own hands at least."